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Lakefront Biking-Running Clashes May be Solved with New Park at Fullerton

By Paul Biasco | October 13, 2014 2:03pm | Updated on October 13, 2014 3:24pm
 Mayor Rahm Emanuel lead a groundbreaking ceremony for work on the Fullerton Revetment project and renovation to the Theater on the Lake.
Theater on the Lake
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LINCOLN PARK — Mayor Rahm Emanuel is not a fan of the constant "On your left!" heard along the lakefront near Fullerton Avenue, and took a step toward ending the congestion Monday morning.

The mayor led a groundbreaking ceremony on the Fullerton Revetment project, which will create 5.8 acres of new park land along the lake and aims to stabilize the shoreline while improving the bike and pedestrian paths that cut through the area.

"I was laughing when you said the congestion," Emanuel said. "That would be most of us who run out here. 'On your left,' that’s how we translate that.”

Paul Biasco says the park will alleviate the bottleneck:

The $31.5 million project, which is being funded by the Army Corps of Engineers, the city and the Chicago Park District, is set to be complete by the summer of 2016.

 A rendering of the proposed Fullerton Revetment project shows the existing shoreline in red, and plans for the expanded park.
A rendering of the proposed Fullerton Revetment project shows the existing shoreline in red, and plans for the expanded park.
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Chicago Department of Transportation

The site is one of the worst bottlenecks of pedestrians, cyclists and runners on the lakefront path, and the improvements seek to eliminate that congestion.

The improvement will involve straightening the drastic curve at Fullerton Avenue along the trail.

"I go through here a lot, and anything to decrease congestion is a bonus," said Jeanne Barr, an Edgewater resident who teaches at Francis Parker School.

Barr said one of the school's students was struck and injured by a cyclist on the path two weeks ago near Fullerton.

"It's like dodging bullets, seriously," she said.

Emanuel said he hopes the improvements will also help "those of us who run at a much slower pace not be knocked over by the bikers."

"That also is a self-interest," he said.

The project will involve replacing the existing revetment with a steel and concrete one to manage waves and prevent further deterioration of the shoreline.

The new revetment will stretch for 1,700 feet along the shoreline, protecting the area from flooding and erosion.

"The Chicago shoreline is famous around the world; however the structures that exist here today were built in the early 1900s, and they are failing," said Col. Christopher Drew, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chicago District. 

Plans to convert the Theater on the Lake into a year-round program and event facility also were unveiled by the mayor during the groundbreaking.

Work on the conversion of the theater is expected to begin next year, and its completion will coincide with the Fullerton Revetment project in 2016.

The Theater on the Lake renovation will include a new performance area, lighting and sound systems and a cafe with outdoor seating.

"I think these are critical improvements, not just in the quality of our shoreline, which is good enough, but also with our cultural institutions, so everybody from every part of the city can enjoy the city of Chicago year round, any season," Emanuel said.

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